A Sam’s Club Pharmacist weighs in on the risks and conditions men should be aware of as they age.

As men age, their risk for developing chronic diseases increases. While that statement may not be surprising, multiple studies showing that men simply don’t take care of their health as well as women just compounds the problem. A 2009 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that men do not go to the doctor as often as women, and when they do go, it is usually for a more serious condition.

Atherosclerosis, diabetes and erectile dysfunction are three of the most common health threats that men over 50 are at risk for developing. And while its true that a physicians input is irreplaceable when addressing these conditions, the pharmacists role in helping men assess, manage and/or prevent them is crucial.

Common health concerns

Atherosclerosis, better known as cardiovascular disease, poses the greatest health risk to men over 50. As this condition advances, cholesterol plaques form in the walls of the arteries in our heart and brain. A stroke or heart attack can occur if this plaque becomes unstable and forms what is known as a blood clot. Men can reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease by no longer smoking, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, and making sure that they are getting 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week.

Diabetes can present a silent health threat to aging men. In the initial stages, most men usually do not have tangible symptoms, and a proper diagnosis can sometimes take years. Physical signs can include blurred vision, dizziness, extreme thirst, frequent urination and erectile dysfunction. Prolonged high blood sugar levels damage nerves and blood vessels throughout the body. The result can be heart attacks, blindness, strokes, kidney failure and amputations. Practicing preventive measures such as exercise and a healthy diet can reduce your risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Aging men who experience erectile dysfunction most likely have a comorbid condition such as atherosclerosis or diabetes that is not being treated or has yet to be diagnosed. Many physicians consider the condition a warning sign for cardiovascular disease. Men with erectile dysfunction are also more likely to develop depression and lose an interest and enjoyment in their lives. While treatments are available for erectile dysfunction, they do not cure the condition. Consult with a doctor to see if underlying causes are presenting a real health risk.

Playing a part

A key role that pharmacists can fill involves administering health and wellness screenings to assess risk, including blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and glucose monitoring screenings for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The pharmacist will analyze these results and turn them over to your physician to help develop an action plan. Through medication therapy management services, the pharmacist also assesses chronic disease states and associated medications with aging men to check for drug interactions and provide valuable treatment advice.

Sarah E. Caven, Rph, PharmD, CED, Pharmacy Area Manager Sams Club